Latest News

21
Jul

No Injuries in Fire at Michigan Cement Plant

A conveyor belt fire brought local firefighters to a Michigan cement plant on Friday.

Fire crews responded at about 10:24 a.m. to Lafarge-North America’s Alpena Plant, where they encountered heavy smoke and flames, according to a news release from the Alpena Fire Department.  Efforts were hampered because the portion of the conveyor where the fire occurred was 130 feet in the air, and there was no water supply other than what firefighters brought to the scene, the release said.  A 100-foot aerial truck was used to provide an elevated water stream. 

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21
Jul

Efforts to Put Out Illinois Mine Fire Continue

Efforts to put out a blaze at an Illinois underground coal mine continued over the weekend.

The work in part involves pumping water into Hillsboro Energy, LLC’s Deer Run Mine to extinguish a blaze that company officials said broke out July 14 in a tailgate section of a previously mined out area.  According to MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere, the operator has reported pumping an estimated 15 million gallons of water into the mine.

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18
Jul

NIOSH to Add Participants to Emergency Responder Training Research Project

NIOSH has issued a revision to an earlier information collection request to seek comments concerning its proposed virtual reality (VR) research project to train and assess emergency responders.  The revision notifies the public of researchers’ intent to enlarge the number of participants.  Read more »

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18
Jul

Senate Hearing Set on Black Lung Issues

Legal and medical challenges facing miners who submit claims for black lung benefits will be the subject of a Senate subcommittee hearing next week.  Read more »

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17
Jul

Efforts Underway to Stem Fire at Illinois Coal Mine

A fire Monday evening forced the evacuation of Hillsboro Energy, LLC’s Deer Run Mine in Illinois.

According to an announcement released today by St. Louis-based Foresight Energy, LP, elevated carbon monoxide readings were detected around 7:30 p.m.  All underground employees were safely evacuated and there were no injuries.

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17
Jul

Obstacles Mar Reporting of Pattison Mine Fire

A fire that broke out a week ago at an Iowa underground sand mine was initially allowed to continue to burn to prevent injury to response personnel, but then reportedly was extinguished over the weekend.

Pattison Sand Co.’s failure to provide any status reports on the fire to this news source and MSHA’s slowness in furnishing updates led us to struggle to determine what was going on at the operator’s mine of the same name in Clayton County and to rely on what turned out to be conflicting and incomplete reports.

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17
Jul

Electrical Violation not S&S, Judge Says

Faced with conflicting evidence between electrical experts from MSHA and a mine operator, an administrative law judge turned to the literature to determine whether a violation was likely to cause serious injury.

MSHA had written a violation of its 75.512 electrical standard as significant and substantial (S&S) because the agency maintained a shock from bare wires on the electrode holder of a welder could affect the heart and/or produce an injury from a miner’s involuntary reaction to being shocked.  However, the operator asserted a miner would only feel a tingle.

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17
Jul

Judge Deems Operator Negligent in Miner’s Death

A judge had upheld MSHA’s negligence designation of a violation and the associated penalty in connection with the death four years ago of a Kentucky coal miner.

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16
Jul

Management Faulted in Miner’s Death

Management’s failure to implement a policy and procedures for loading trucks led to the death of a miner, MSHA said in an accident report released today.

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15
Jul

Third Circuit: Carbon Plant under MSHA Jurisdiction

An appeals court has let stand a ruling that a Pennsylvania company is engaged in the business of preparing coal, as defined in the Mine Act, and thus falls under MSHA’s jurisdiction.

The decision Friday by a panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals went against Shamokin Filler Co., Inc., which argued it makes its anthracite coal products out of already processed coal, and, as such, falls outside MSHA’s purview.

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14
Jul

Failure to Secure Pipe Led to Miner’s Death

A long-time employee of a Virginia sand operation was killed because mine management did not use safe procedures to move a slurry pipe, MSHA investigators have concluded.

Mine Manager Robert J. Devich, 64, died three days after being struck on the head when a slurry pipe fell off an excavator that was being operated by the president of the company.  The accident occurred last March 27 at Baillio Sand Co., Inc.’s three-person intermittent Lord #5 Mine in Virginia Beach.  The entirety of Devich’s 32 years of mining experience was with Baillio.

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14
Jul

Firemen Called Back to Pattison Mine Fire

A fire last week at an Iowa sand mine that the company initially thought to have been minor remained a concern two days later.

The blaze, said to have been caused by a welding spark igniting a piece of equipment underground, broke out either Wednesday or Thursday morning at Pattison Sand Co.’s mine of the same name in Clayton County.  At the time, the mine was evacuated, and company officials said they expected the mine to resume operations within 36 to 48 hours, after MSHA had completed its investigation.  There were no injuries.

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14
Jul

North Carolina Paving Company Fined for Hiring Aliens

A North Carolina company has agreed to pay a $1.5 million penalty for hiring people who aren't authorized to work in the U.S.

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14
Jul

Settlement Reached in Lawsuit against MSHA

MSHA will be required to set up a fire prevention course and the federal government will pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the widows of two West Virginia miners killed in an underground coal mine fire more than eight years ago.

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11
Jul

Fire Closes Iowa Mine Temporarily

Miners were evacuated from an Iowa sand mine after a welding spark ignited a piece of mining equipment underground.

No one was injured in the 7:45 a.m. incident Thursday at Pattison Sand Co., according to Beth Regan, the company’s public relations coordinator, KWWL TV reported.  The mine has been shut down pending an investigation by MSHA.  The company said it expected to resume operations within 36 to 48 hours. 

Pattison could not be reached for further comment Friday morning, and MSHA did not immediately respond to a request for information.

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10
Jul

Federal Safety Agencies Stress Heat Illness Prevention

MSHA, OSHA and NIOSH have all issued alerts to employers to protect their employees against heat-related illnesses during the summer months.  Read more »

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9
Jul

Man Pleads Guilty in Arch Kickback Scheme, Other Plea Hearings Set

A West Virginia man could get up to three years in prison after admitting to submitting false tax returns in a scheme that involved at least nine other individuals.

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9
Jul

MSHA Cites Wyoming Operator over Fatal Accident

MSHA issued two citations to a Wyoming surface coal operator following the agency’s investigation into the death of a bulldozer operator last fall.

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8
Jul

Judge Denies MSHA’s Motions in Mine Act Dispute

An administrative law judge (ALJ) has rejected MSHA’s request for review by the five-member Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission of a dispute between the judge and MSHA over settlement language in the Mine Act.

In an order July 1, ALJ William Moran also certified upon his own motion that his previous rulings rejecting a settlement proposed by the agency involve a controlling question of law and that review should proceed immediately so as to advance the final disposition of the case.

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8
Jul

MSHA Launches Annual PROP Initiative

MSHA has launched its annual campaign to raise awareness about the danger of roof and rib falls in underground coal mines.  Read more »

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Sharpe’s Point: On Mine Safety provides exclusive, up-to-the-minute news and articles on critical safety and health topics for mining industry professionals, industry lawyers, agencies and educational institutions.

 

IN THE JULY ISSUE OF SHARPE'S POINT: ON MINE SAFETY

Enforcement Concern Shadows MSHA’s Walk and Talk
Write ‘em High, Inspectors Told

Facts Carry the Day in Litigation, Attorney Says
Documenting Inspections is Key

Kohler Bids Farewell to Productive Career at NIOSH
Research Chief Returning to Academia

Accolades, Well Wishes from Colleagues
Joe Main, Others Praise Kohler

Legal Briefs
Noteworthy Civil Penalty Cases

MSHA, ALJs Tussle over Settlement Authority
Both Sides Claim Jurisdiction to Set Terms

24 Companies Hold One-Third of MSHA Penalty Debt
Most Scofflaws from Appalachia

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Coming Events

10 a.m., July 22, 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

July 29-31, Lakeview Resort and Conference Center, Morgantown, WV

Aug 4-7, Convention Center, Lexington , KY

Poll

Should MSHA automatically order drug testing of victims of fatal mining accidents and everyone who contributed to the accidents?
Yes
50%
No
50%
Not Sure
0%
Total votes: 8

Current Regulatory Agenda

Proposed (P) Final (F)
(DFR) Direct Final Rule

MSHA
(F) Prox Detect Devices: CMMs Jun '14
(P) Fees for Product Testing Aug. '14
(
P) Civil Penalties May '14
(P) Prox Detect Devices UG Sep. '14

OSHA
(F) Update NAICS Jun '14
(F) Confined Space Construction Aug '14
(F) Slips, Trips, Falls Oct '14
(F) Improve Injury Tracking Mar '15
(
P) Employers' Rptg. Obligation Aug '14
(P) Beryllium Jul '14
(P, DFR) Eye, Face Protection Sep. '14

Fatalities

          2014

     
  • Coal 8
  • Aggregates 6
  • Other M/NM 8

Total 22

         2013

  • Coal 20
  • Aggregates 12
  • Other M/NM 9

Total 41

         2012

  • Coal 20
  • Aggregates 10
  • Other M/NM 6

Total 36

    2011
  • Coal 21
  • Aggregates 8
  • Other M/NM 8

Total 37

 

 

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